The Kei Islands

The Kei islands are located in the Maluku Tengara Regency within the Maluku Province in Eastern Indonesia.
The local name of the islands is Nuhu Evav (Evav Islands) or Tanat Evav (Evav Land), but known as Kei for people from the surrounding islands. The common spelling “Kai” is rooted in the Dutch colonial era and still persisting in books based on old resources. The islands are on the edge of the Banda Sea, south of the Bird’s Head Peninsula of New Guinea, west of the Aru Islands, and northeast of the Tanimbar Islands. The Kei islands are made up of numerous islands, including

  • Kai Besar or Nuhu Yuut or Nusteen (Great Kei)
  • Kai Kecil or Nuhu Roa or Nusyanat (Little Kei)
  • Tanimbar Kei or Tnebar Evav
  • Kei Dulah or Du
  • Dulah Laut or Du Roa
  • Kuur
  • Taam
  • Tayandu Islands

Kei Besar is mountainous and densely forested. Kei Kecil has the biggest population, and is flat. Most of the islands are prehistoric reefs that were pushed up by tectonic plate movement. Limestone dominates on most of the by fringing reefs surrounded islands.
In Tual, the capital town of the Kei’s Islam dominates over Christianity by miles. Nearby Langgur is the center for Christians.
Kei is famous for the beauty of its paradise-like beaches. The infra structure is not very much developed, so the best way to explore and enjoy this pristine part of Eastern Indonesia is indeed by liveaboard.
The Kei islands are part of Wallacea, the group of Indonesian islands that are separated by deep water from both the Asian and Australian continents, and were never linked to either of them during the history of tectonic plate movement. As a result the Kei Islands have few native mammals and are part of the Banda Sea Islands moist deciduous forests Eco region.

The most accessible part of southern Maluku, the Kei Islands are rapidly regaining their reputation as the place to go to look for perfect, un-spoilt, white sandy beaches, fringed with palm trees inviting for a hang out for sunset or incredible sunrises.

The most popular destination is the island of Kei Kecil, which is connected by a bridge to the closest neighbor island of Dullah. The bridge also connects the twin towns of Tual and Langgur that make up the capital of the entire Kei archipelago, and as such, the two islands form a practical unit.
In contrast to these two flat, deforested islands, Kei Besar, the largest of the Kei’s, is long, mountainous and forested.
The other islands in the Kei archipelago tend to be of the little white sands and coconut palms type, but the remotest of them, Tanimbar Kei, is noted for its traditional culture.

The Kei’s are located on the edge of the so-called ‘Coral Triangle’, which outlines the world’s richest waters on our planet. Not only does this overall region describe the highest diversity in terms of fish but also invertebrates, mollusks and corals. Rich fringing and barrier reefs burry a huge variety of most colorful reef fishes, nudibranches, cephlapods and an abundance of kaleidoscopic coral scapes.
Big fish like cruising by Spanish mackerels, dog tooth tuna, eagle or manta rays are common encounters if you can take your gaze off of the mesmorizing maze of marine life on those rich reefs.

Both macro fans as well as wide-angle photographers are not going to be disappointed.
Exploring these beautiful and remote islands and their surrounding sea is going to spark up the fire of being an explorer in divers hearts.



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